IRS 501(C)3 Requirements

Free guide to understanding the IRS and my 501c3 nonprofit tax exempt status

How do I get nonprofit tax exempt status from the IRS?

Once your nonprofit is formed with the Secretary of State, the first IRS requirement is to get your corporation an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for an EIN online at the IRS site, or call toll-free: (800) 829-4933. After a few minutes on hold, it is easy and free.

Next you complete and file IRS Form 1023 or Form 1024 (Application for Recognition of Exemption). This is a long detailed form that asks for lots of information about your corporation history, finances and activities. You must attach your articles of incorporation to the application. If the wording that the IRS requires is not there, you will be rejected. Form 1023 is used by religious, educational, charitable and scientific organizations. Form 1024 is used by employee associations, fraternal associations, state-sponsored organization and other similar groups. Both forms and instructions can be found in your online account if ‘Northwest Registered Agent’ is your registered agent.

What is the fee to apply for federal tax exemption?

The filing fee is $600 for organizations filing Form 1023 and Form 1024.

How long does it take?

The IRS will take at least five or six months to review your submitted application before you receive a tax exemption or a rejection. You will usually receive letters and/or calls asking for more information from the IRS reviewer.

What is the special wording needed by the IRS in the nonprofit articles of incorporation?

According to the IRS, when reviewing your documents for tax exemption, they will expect the following language to be in your nonprofit articles in mostly this form:

  • Said corporation is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
  • No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article [#] hereof. No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or (b) by a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
  • If reference to federal law in articles of incorporation imposes a limitation that is invalid in your state, you may wish to substitute the following for the last sentence of the preceding paragraph: “Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, this corporation shall not, except to an insubstantial degree, engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of the purposes of this corporation.”
  • Upon the dissolution of the corporation, after paying or making provisions for the payment of all the legal liabilities of the corporation, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by a Court of Competent Jurisdiction of the county in which the principal office of the corporation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes

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